Category Archives: Opinions

Thoughts on the Malaysia Cadbury Dairy Milk Pork DNA controversy [Update-3]

Cadbury Malaysia

 

 

 

 

 

My thoughts on the Malaysia Cadbury Dairy Milk Pork DNA controversy

Statement from Cadbury Malaysia

 

Update: Below is from Cadbury Pakistan on Dairy Milk sold in Pakistan

 

 

And now Malaysia authorities have cleared Cadbury of any traces of Pork DNA. But most consumers will likely remain wary of products for some time until this fades from memory.

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Beards are not just for Terrorists | Express Tribune Blog – Views of DiscoMaulvi

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I came across an interesting blog post today on the Express Tribune web page by Syed Faiq Najeeb and started writing a comment there. It turned out that I wanted to preserve and highlight what I wrote, so I decided to just post it here and post a link there instead.

For years I lived any young adult’s dream; there was music, parties, banter, unorthodox festivities, substance abuse and a fair degree of foul play. Then things changed radically – it was nothing short of a revolution; I grew a beard.

After extensively studying and reading about both Islam and other religions, I started to pray five times a day and even encourage friends and colleagues towards the path of salvation. I have finally chosen spirituality over (supposed) rationality and have given up on worldly desires to pursue those of an eternal life.

Since I can’t post the entire article here, I would suggest you head over to the Express Tribune Blog to read it before reading my comments on it below.


Faiq and I are in the same boat; difference is I’ve been facing this "discrimination" for over 12 years (yes there was discrimination before 9/11 also!).

As I wrote in The Story of DiscoMaulvi, I too turned towards religion after a year of partying and living it up in college. Once I did start that journey, the decision to grow a beard came naturally. As Faiq pointed out in his post, “I no longer wished to be part of activities which I used to indulge in before”. In addition, the beard served as a reminder of my decision to turn towards religion and in times when I was tempted it often served to keep me in check.

The importance of the beard has been intentionally marginalized over the centuries. Whereby once the fact that you shaved meant that your testimony would not be accepted (in fact in the eyes of Imam Abu Hanifa, whose school of thought majority of the muslims in Pakistan claim to follow blindly, keeping a beard was obligatory), now we hear people claiming it is JUST A SUNNAH.

Regarding the issue of the bearded baddies, it is unfair to generalize the entire bearded population on the basis of the actions of some. It is like saying just because some Pakistanis are corrupt, all of them are. Bet that would cause most of the people to throw a hissy fit!

As for the "Dari Islam mein hai, Islam dari mein nahin" statement everyone loves to quote, that statement is ABSOLUTELY RIGHT YET COMPLETELY WRONG! By keeping a beard, you don’t become pious. But by not keeping a beard you can not be pious (if we take the position that the beard is obligatory as was the opinion of the 4 Imams whose schools of thought are widely followed or those of the numerous imams and scholars whose names most people never ever heard of).

May Allah give us the ability to understand Islam as understood by the sahaba (R) and the early generations. And may He make us obedient to His commands. Aameen.

Aly - Clean Shaven in August 1997

Aly B – August 1997, NCSU, Raleigh, North Carolina

  Blaagers - 100528 - Blog Awards 2010 - 002

Aly B – May 2010, Pakistan Blog Awards, Karachi, Pakistan

Indecency Commercialized Part Deux

Guest Post by Saeed M. Originally Posted on Author’s Space on Yello.Pk

 

 

Assalamu’Alaikum:

Masha’Allah, there are many different pockets of people speaking out about this rising tide of insensitivity in advertising. Below is an email from a colleague (her identity is referred to as K.O. for the purpose of this post) about Hiba Magazine’s efforts in rousing people towards this cause. Let’s join hands and do this collectively. The whole is greater than the sum, Insha’Allah.

 

Assalamu’Alaikum all,

HIBA Magazine has been doing a "Raise you Voice" section in their magazine for a while now.  Their initiative is to write to companies who use distasteful and inappropriate advertising to sell their products.

We are all aware of the alarming increase in obscenity and vulgarity in our media – particularly advertising. Are we not going to do anything about it?

We must wake up from our complacent slumber and raise our voice.  Do we have any other choice? Please ask your circle of influence to raise their voice.

A sample email written to Gul Ahmed Textiles is at the end of this message.

May Allah help and guide us all and may He write us among those who stand up for His deen.  Ameen

Wassalam
K.O.

 

 

HIBA MAGAZINE

Raise your Voice

For this month’s “Raise your Voice” we are sending the following letters:

1.      Omore Icecream: We sent a letter to Engro Foods, complaining about their recent advertisement of Omore. We emphasized that ridiculous dancing does little to advertise ice-cream, but does loads to promote the wrong values. You can send a letter of protest against this advertisement to their ad agency at info@ialideas.com and the_vision_factory@yahoo.co.uk. To complain to the parent company, send an email to: rkhaliq@engro.com. You can also complain at the Engro website at:
http://engrofoods.supportpad.com/submit.php?id=qwezasdqqwca1sdqwe3qw

 

2.      Gul Ahmed Textiles: We sent a letter to Gul Ahmed Textiles to protest against their billboard at Punjab Chowrangi, Clifton (among other places). You can also send in your letters / emails to:

Mr. Huzaifa Essabhai
Marketing Executive
Gul Ahmed Textile Mills Ltd
H.T/4 Landhi Industrial Area Karachi-75120
Pakistan

Ph: +92-21-111485485 Ext-6536
Fax: +92-21-5082625
Cell: +92-333-2361269
Email: huzaifa.essabhai@gulahmed.com

 

3.      Master Molty Foam: It was brought to our attention that the Master Molty Foam ad is also highly vulgar and distasteful. If you have seen this advertisement, please write to
customerssupport@master.com.pk and rehman@master.com.pk to register your protest.

 

4.      Nando’s: Has anyone noticed the alarming frequency with which the Nando’s advertisements and flyers have started to feature the phrase “hot chicks”? We sent them a strong letter of condemnation against this use of phrase.

 

5.      Accessorize: This international brand apparently did not consider local values when it placed a front page advertisement in Metropolitan, Dawn. We sent them an educational letter, requesting them to revamp their advertisements in line with the values of the country, where they are advertising. Do send them this request also,
at: generalenquiries@monsoon.co.uk

 

6.      Pepsi Cola International: Huge, glaring billboards of Slice Mango Juice are a torture to the eyes. We are sending them a letter through their website, requesting them to emphasize more on the product than on the model. Interestingly, they wrote back to us, giving us a specific address/phone number to complain on. Here it is now. Please write to them too:

MIDDLE EAST/PAKISTAN
PEPSI-COLA INTERNATIONAL
National Bank of Fujairah Bldg.
Khalid Ibn Al Waleed Road
P.O. Box 11330 Dubai
United Arab Emirates

Phone: (971 4) 3971 666
Fax: (971 4) 3972 048

 

7.      Pakola: Last year, we wrote to Pakola Milk commending them on a billboard, which was without a single model. This year, they have re-introduced the billboards, with glaring images of models. We are sending a letter of disappointment to them. You can also get in touch with them at info@pakola.com.pk and sales@pakola.com.pk

 

 

 

Sample E-Mail to Gul Ahmed Textile

From:
To: huzaifa.essabhai@gulahmed.com
Subject:
Date: Mon, 31 May 2010 11:43:52 +0600

Mr Essabhai,

Assalamu’Alaikum.

I am a fan and loyal customer of Gul Ahmed fabrics and products. Your name has been synonymous with good quality and value for money. However, I am disappointed at the current trend in your marketing. The use of female sexuality to sell products is a cheap gimmick – does it really add value to your product?  If so, then what value?  Is it worth challenging the religious and cultural sensibilities of your customers?  And yes, majority of your customers do get outraged by billboards and catalogues selling NOT just lawn but sex.  As a woman, I am appalled to see my kind being so unashamedly exploited to sell stuff.

Gul Ahmed has been a business leader of this country for decades.  You do not need to jump on the bandwagon of distasteful and morally corrupt advertising campaigns. In fact one expects you to lead the industry with an example of ethical business practices.

You must consider this seriously.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

K.O.
(A concerned citizen and customer of Gul Ahmed)

Omore – Indecency Commercialized

Guest Post by Saeed MOriginally Posted on the Author’s Yello.Pk Blog

Ever get the feeling that you’re slipping down a slippery slope, and there is not a handhold or a foothold in sight?

I remember that billboard for Jazz, put up at the intersection of KalaPul and Shahrah-e-Faisal many years ago, with a lady talking suggestively on the phone. Every time I would pass by it, I would wish that someone would do something about it. I did nothing about it. One day, I heard that it caught fire. Stories went around that some disgruntled fundos did it. And I wished I was one of them.

For some time, the ads became a little more decent. And then the deluge began. With cell phone companies leading the way, mattress peddlers, soft drink makers and just about everyone else began TV ads, billboards etc with women giving the come hither look to the poor unsuspecting men, just to sell some airtime minutes.

Soon to follow, Indian movies moved out of drawing room VCRs to our cinema halls. And women anchors on TV talk shows wearing T-Shirts. And then, women in tight clothes were all around, going to schools selling Red Bull, approaching you in shopping malls selling shampoo, and so on….

I thought the women’s liberation movement was all about liberating women from the exploitation of men. But I look around me in the year 2010 and I see beautiful women being used to sell wares. This selling is not through intelligent persuasion but through subliminal targeting and manipulation. So this is liberation?

This probably sounds like a tempest in a teacup to those who don’t remember the days before that Jazz ad. Indecency does not shock us anymore, because it is everywhere. Much less than stopping it with our hands, or speaking out against it, we often neglect to even think of these as bad in our hearts.

If things are to change, we need to be that change.

There is an ad campaign on TV these days selling Omore ice-cream, in which young men and women in tight clothes do gymnastic dance moves, to sell ICE-CREAM cones! I find it distasteful (the ad – haven’t tried the ice-cream). Yet, I was complacent. Then I received an email from a friend, informing me of a kind soul who started an email campaign to urge Engro Foods to pull that commercial. And I did the same. And I felt like it was the first blow I struck, insignificant as it was.

If we are to stop this exploitation of our sisters and daughters, we must speak out against it wherever we see it. And to back up those words with actions such as choosing a competing product in protest.

Image Courtest PakMediaBlog

If you share my view, kindly write a polite email to Engro Foods, asking them to pull the ads because they offend our religious and cultural sensibilities. You may send these to Mr. Rehan (rkhaliq@engro.com). Please remember to be polite but firm. Kindly send a Bcc to kashifhaf@gmail.com, so that he can monitor how much pressure we are exerting. And spread the word to your circle of family and friends, so that they may speak up too.

Being silent is not an option any more.

Facebook Ban – A Response to a comment on Teeth Maestro

I initially started this as a response to this comment by Arzoo on this post on Teeth Maestro on the subject of Everybody Draw Mohammed Day and the ensuing Facebook Ban but decided it needed to be on my blog for a longer response.

arzoo says:

May 21, 2010 at 2:29 pm

You are not a Religious Scholar as you admitted “I’m not a religious scholar” But yet you make a statement on something you don’t know

You Don’t Agree With All of Scholars Of Islam Including All the Prominent Scholars ? You Disagree with Prophet (PBUH) order to Umer (RZ) to kill the Jew who insulted Prophet (PBUH)

The ruling on one who insults the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)

The scholars are unanimously agreed that a Muslim who insults the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) becomes a kaafir and an apostate who is to be executed. This consensus was narrated by more than one of the scholars, such as Imaam Ishaaq ibn Raahawayh, Ibn al-Mundhir, al-Qaadi ‘Iyaad, al-Khattaabi and others. Al-Saarim al-Maslool, 2/13-

http://forum.chatdd.com/religions/54002-punishment-insulting-prophet-muhammad-saw.html

 

My Response

Dear Arzoo:

I agree with you that the thought of anyone disrespecting our Prophet (SAW) should make your blood boil and make you want to chop his head off. This should be our level of Iman that we love Allah and his Rasool above all even ourselves.

I however disagree that we as individuals should go about chopping heads. This is the duty of the Khalifa to impose such a punishment and as an individual or group of muslims we have no legal Islamic right to harm anyone.

While the incident of the Jew you mentioned may have happened, the order was given by the Amir-ul-Momineen of that time (the Prophet (SAW)) and Omar (RA) would have not been right if he killed the Jew on his own initiative. Today we neither have the Prophet (SAW) in our midst nor a Khalifa. Thus, to impose these verdicts is not in our legal right.

I am all for the Government banning specific links to all that is unsafe and unislamic (includes thousands of porn websites that anybody can easily access, links to terrorist outfits, Nazi websites, and several anti-Islam websites). I am also all for the Government protesting on the international front by sending a strictly worded letter to the country where this all started (USA), raise this issue from the platform of Islamic bodies and in the UN. Blanket bans of Facebook, YouTube, Wikipedia, Flickr, etc have just served to catapult this issue in the limelight as Fatima Ajmal, Sana Saleem and several other Blaagers have highlighted that we have created free publicity for the perpetrators of this filth and then banned our own access to be able to protest it on the forum of propogation!!

Allah (SWT) has made Islam a complete religion and way of life for us. We look at the incident of the Jew and we take it as proof for violence but we do not look at the rage of the Prophet (SAW) when he expressed his wish to go and burn the houses of those Muslims who did not come to the Masjid for Fajr. Our blood does not boil when we see the elite of this country (and increasingly the non-elite) consume alcohol and make fun of Islamic injunctions. Are we enraged when we see our country waging war against Allah and His Messenger (SAW) by allowing an interest based economy?

Granted that if I am not following one part of Islam, it doesn’t mean that I should stop following another part. We should however use this incident to do a self-evaluation and see just how we are insulting the Prophet (SAW) in our daily lives by ignoring all the things he ordered us to do.

At the end of the day, I am reminded of a verse by Allama Iqbal

Na Thi Jab Apnay Haal Ki Khabar
Dekhtay Rehay Logon Kay Aib-o-Hunar
Parri Jab Apnay Gunahoon Par Nazar
To Nigah Mein Koi Aur Bura Na Raha!

LHC order bans Facebook access; kills Mobilink GPRS and Blackberry services

A couple of days back, we were discussing “Draw Mohammed Day” – how it has become a runaway roller coaster and why FaceBook is acting irresponsibly and not banning the event / fan page connected to this day. Following my post, several opinions arose on Twitter and elsewhere on the attitude one should have on this matter and a lot of people who viewed it objectively figured instead of boycotting we should use the Facebook medium to promote Islam and highlight the life of the Prophet (SAW) on 20th May.

Copyright AFP / Getty Images Yesterday Lahore High Court in a ruling decided that it was up to the Pakistan Government to shield the public from this and so a ruling from the court forced the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to pull the plug on Facebookers in Pakistan. however, as all implementations of the Government go, someone somewhere screwed up and at 11 pm last night (May 19, 2010) I was able to fully access the website through my GPRS connection on Mobilink.

The wonderful media managed to find this out and their highlighting of this accessibility of Facebook led to Mobilink being charged with contempt of court and a bit after midnite Mobilink switched off its GPRS access. No not the GPRS access to Facebook but the whole thing including all Blackberry Services. (Note: I am assuming that is what has happened since I don’t have access to any news on this!) Now Facebook or no Facebook is just OK with me but I am heavily dependent on my GPRS and Blackberry for a whole lot of things. My work involves hundred of emails daily and generally my access to this is via my Blackberry especially when I am out of the office. Moreover, the Blackberry Messenger is a vital tool for my communication with colleagues, friends and family. In addition, my connection to my Tweeps is primarily using SocialScope client on the Blackberry also.

It is around half past nine as I write this and generally by now I have read and replied to a majority of my emails and am up to date with things, all without even getting ready for work! Today I am clueless to what is happening since not only is my Blackberry service not working due to this idiotic decision, my DSL Modem refuses to hold a connection due to the extreme fluctuation since last nite. That is why this post is was barebones without any links to other sources. It would be a lucky break if the electricity stabilizes for long enough for this to be posted!!

As an aside, it reflects just how integrated the Internet and mobile connectivity has become on our lives since we feel completely cut off from the world without it! Now i feel the voltage is picking up so let me reset the DSL modem and try to post this!

UPDATE: Around 9:50 am my link to the world has been restored and my GPRS and Blackberry connection seem to be back up and working. Yipppeeee!!!

 

UPDATE: More on this from other Blaagers

 

PRESS CONFERENCE: Protest Against Nationwide Government Ban of Facebook on Teeth Maestro (Dr Awab Alvi)
Lahore High Court orders Facebook blocked till the 31st of May on Teeth Maestro (Dr Awab Alvi)
From South Park to the LHC Ban – How Did We Get Here? on CHUP! by Kalsoom Lakhani

 

UPDATE: From the International Media

Facebook upset over Pakistan ban due to Prophet Mohammed contest page – Herald Sun Australia
‘Draw Mohammed’ call prompts Pakistan Facebook ban • The Register
Pakistan Court Orders Temporary Facebook Ban Over Prophet Caricatures – Tech Crunch
Muslim anger prompts Pakistan to block Facebook – Yahoo! News
Pakistan blocks Facebook over ‘Draw Mohammed’ Day – CNN.com

Everybody Draw Mohammed Day – A run away roller coaster?

You may remember a couple of years ago, there was a series of mass protests all over the Muslim world, when a Danish newspaper published cartoons of the Prophet (SAW). Some Muslims chose to take the way of violence, some burnt flags and took out rallies, and many economically boycotted all things Danish. The issue boiled the blood of almost all who claim to be Muslim.

Recently the South Park controversy came and went, but no one really noticed it much since Comedy Central decided they didn’t want to risk it after an extremist group sent a gruesome picture of Theo Van Gogh (a Dutch film maker who was killed for his film Submission).

After being invited to one too many groups declaring war against Facebook for not banning the fan page of “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day”, I figured i would read up on just what everyone was so antsy about and put in my two cents worth (and hopefully being able to kill the Writer’s block that has been troubling me for the past few months).

Everybody Draw Muhammad

Molly Norris, a cartoonist based in Seattle couldn’t understand why anyone would resort to threats of violence on the South Park depiction of Prophet Muhammad. Such extremism must be voiced out against; we have a right to draw whatever we want; our wonderful First Amendment gives us the right, blah blah blah. So Molly set out her thoughts in a way that she knew best: in a cartoon. Little did clueless Molly know it would go “viral” and take a life of its own.

 

I did NOT ‘declare’ May 20 to be "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day." I made a cartoon about the television show South Park being censored. The cartoon-poster, with a fake ‘group’ behind it, went viral and was taken seriously. I never started a FaceBook page; a stranger did and there is nothing I can do about it.

My one-off cartoon of a fictional poster does not work well as a long-term plan. The vitriol this ‘day’ has brought out, of people who only want to draw obscene images, is offensive to the Muslims who did nothing to endanger our right to expression in the first place. Only Viacom and Revolution Muslim are to blame, so write to them instead!

I apologize to people of Muslim faith and ask that this ‘day’ be called off. Thank you to those who are turning this crazy thing into an opportunity for dialogue, education and solutions.

Sincerely,
Molly

(I regret going on a local radio show on April 25th; my ego took me there, it was a mistake. I meant for this to remain a fictional CARTOON, an artistic IDEA, never to catch fire as an actual ‘event’.)

 

Something doesn’t quite add up here. Molly meant this as a cartoon, her own voice against extremism. So why did her “ego” take her on air of a local radio show? (In this day and age of super connectivity and broadband internet, is anything really “local” any more?) And why did she pass on the image to Dan Savage, a Seattle based blogger and a nationally syndicated columnist, in the first place? Oh sure, now she claims in interviews that she was an idiot, but if she meant this never to go viral why did she start spreading it in the first place? Dan Savage served as a promoter and his network of readers served as the means to disseminate this graphic out to the world and mothball this into the controversy it is.

"This particular cartoon of a ‘poster’ seems to have struck a gigantic nerve, something I was totally unprepared for"

Seriously Molly, have you been hibernating all these years? What cartoonist wouldn’t have heard of the controversial cartoons of the Prophet that sparked off worldwide protests?

We also find Jon Wellington, who created a Facebook event for this non-existent day, has backed out. He created the event on Facebook because he "loved [Norris’s] creative approach to the whole thing — whimsical and nonjudgmental." So why is he backing out? And now that he is backing out why not just delete the event and all its content? Instead of writing

New game: Be super-nice to everyone! Enough of this drawing nonsense.

just get rid of the event and remove the controversy! Because the wall on the event is looking like a duel between Muslims and those who are intent on bashing Islam and spreading hate.

And now the event has spawned into splinter Fan pages and what not where the extremists are having a blast in bashing Muslims and spawning hatred.

So while Molly may have washed her hands off this mess by posting an apology and a revised version of her cartoon, Molly Norris’ monster is still out there, growing rapidly and embroiling all in this controversy.

750_DrawMohammedPosterTellingSm

Facebook is also playing its part in feeding this monster. Instead of acting responsibly and shutting down all such events and fan pages that are clearly in violation of their terms of service particularly item 3.7 which states

3.7 You will not post content that: is hateful, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence

So should we boycott Facebook for a day?

A campaign has started to call for banning Facebook on May 20 as a protest against Facebook’s inaction against the “Everybody Draw Mohammed” pages on Facebook.

 

boycott facebook may 20

But why stick to just a one day boycott? Why not boycott until Facebook sits up and notices? Is our love for the Prophet so meager that it warrants staying off Facebook for just 24 hours? And where does this love for the Prophet disappear to when we blatantly ignore his teachings day in and day out? Do we boycott ourselves for not loving and respecting the Prophet by obeying his teachings? And does not the Quran tell us that all Prophets are equal and we should not distinguish between any single one? So why don’t we protest when South Park regularly depicts Jesus (AS) in its cartoons? Just some food for thought for us all as we stay off Facebook on 20th May.